Cuba: Only US refuses normal relations

March 21, 2009

El Salvador's new president-elect, Mauricio Funes from the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), has pledged to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba.

The government of Costa Rica has announced its intention to do the same, according to a March 19 ACN report. That leaves the United States as the only country in the Americas without normal diplomatic relations with the island.

The US still maintains a crippling economic blockade on the island, begun nearly five decades ago.

A March 17 Associated Press report said, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called the US blockade "absurd and stupid" and called on Cuba to be included at next month's Summit of the Americas meeting.

Speaking to a Wall Street Journal-sponsored investment meeting in New York, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva also called for an end to the blockade on Cuba, said a March 17 AP article.

Lula said: "There is nothing any more from the political, sociological [or] humanitarian perspective that impedes the re-establishment of relations between the United States and Cuba."

Despite these calls, reported on March 11 that the US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control had levied a US$20,950 fine on Lactalis USA, for "making electronic financial transactions in which Cuba or a Cuban citizen had an interest" between 2004 and 2007.

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